Tag Archives: Interview

Interview: Meet Russ Colchamiro

Meet Author Russ Colchamiro


ULM: What lured you into the sci-fi genre?

A: I’ve always been a scifi fan, but as a writer it evolved organically. I like to tell wild, expansive stories that challenge our beliefs of the Universe while also connecting with characters on a personal level, juxtaposing the struggles of their daily lives with the fate of the cosmos.
Writing in the scifi genre also allows me to dream as big as I want, with nothing really off limits, as long as I explain the rules, and stick with them. I’m also a bit of a philosopher, so scifi is a perfect genre to explore the big questions—are our lives predetermined or can we influence the greater outcomes? Fate vs. destiny. Is there a cosmic plan or is it all random? And regardless of the answers, how do we choose to live our lives along the way?

ULM: Was it hard to combine both comedy and sci-fi in your Finders Keepers trilogy?

A: For me it came naturally. By design and instinct, I tend to write all of my stories as a mystery, where I reveal, conceal, and then reveal again, loaded with tension … and humor.
During my early 20s I backpacked through Europe at a time when that wasn’t nearly as common as it is today. We’re talking 1994, so pre-Internet. You really had to figure out what you were doing either far in advance, or adjust on the fly. Or both. You couldn’t just go online and book your trip because there was no online.

Once I got going, I had one of those trips that significantly changed my outlook on life. Later, I took a two-week trip to New Zealand, which was equally transformative. Separately, I had been tinkering this scifi/fantasy concept, where Jason Medley—who I knew nothing about—had a jar of the Universe’s DNA. And I certainly had no clue what a jar of the Universe’s DNA might be, what that even meant, or how or why Jason had it. But I was dying to find out.
So those two ideas—the backpacking and the scifi—just fit together, and had me laughing along the way. My trips were hilarious (at least to me) so the comedy was already there, and carried through the 3-book series – Finders Keepers, Genius de Milo, and Astropalooza.

Each book is written in part like a travelogue with a you-are-there feel, yet the two main characters, backpackers Jason Medley and Theo Barnes (who’s from New Zealand) find themselves being chased around the globe by a motley crew from this world and the cosmos, wanting to steal that jar of the Universe’s DNA for themselves.

In each book, Jason and Theo have to find some way to save the Earth, the galaxy, or even the entire Universe, even though they really don’t understand how they got mixed up in these shenanigans to begin with. But every time they bumble their way into saving the day, they ultimately make matters worse.

By the time we start the third book, they’ve inadvertently set in motion the next Big Bang, which, if it comes to fruition before Astropalooza—a cosmic celebration of the Universe—existence as we know it will be wiped out.

ULM: How many books have published so far?

A. So far I’ve written four novels, one anthology, which I edited—Love, Murder & Mayhem—and I’ve appeared in about a half dozen or so other anthologies where I contributed a story to the collection.

ULM: You mentioned living in New Jersey. Would this place have any influence on your writing?

A: So far … not really, but I think you’ll see that influence become much more substantial in the future. Can’t say more right now, but stay tuned.

ULM: Using only three words, how would you describe your writing style?

A: Humorous. Adventurous. Mysterious.

ULM: Your latest novel, the anthology Love Murder & Mayhem, looks amazing. Can you share with us, readers what that’s about?

A: While writing Genius de Milo, the second book in my Finders Keepers scifi backpacking comedy series, I briefly introduced the character of Angela Hardwicke. She’s a private eye in that classic Sam Spade tradition. But I knew immediately that I wanted to spend more time with her, so I gave her a much bigger role in the third and final book in the series, Astropalooza, while also convinced that I wanted to give her a series of her own. But first I wanted to write a short story with Hardwicke in the lead, to get a better sense of who she was, her rhythms, and the kinds of stories I wanted to tell.

Thus I started the Love, Murder & Mayhem anthology through my publishing group—Crazy 8 Press. We have 15 stories, from 15 authors (including me) with every story containing at least one act of love or romance, at least one murder, and lots of mayhem. I initially thought I’d get nothing but private stories—I did a get a few—but the anthology contains superhero and supervillain stories, off-world and space cruiser stories, as well as A.I., private eyes, sleep surrogates, time travel, an aliens/monsters mash-up and … one DuckBob!

ULM: What was one of your toughest scenes to create in Love Murder & Mayhem?

A: Writing a murder mystery—especially one that has to be self-contained in less than 8,000 words—has to be intricately and concisely plotted. I had to figure out who the murderer(s) was, why the murder took place, and how, and then map out the sequence of events beginning to end before I could even start writing. If even one detail was out of place the infrastructure of the story would collapse. It was my first true murder mystery, so it was a great learning experience as a writer.

ULM: Which characters from Love Murder & Mayhem were easy to develop?

A: Hardwicke’s my girl. I’ve always wanted to write a detective series, so I’m having a blast with Hardwicke. And it’s not so much that I’m writing her, but that she’s revealing herself to me. By spending time thinking about who and how she is, I’ve discovered Hardwicke’s origin story, and where her larger character arc will take us over the course of several books. It should be a lot of fun.

ULM: Where can readers find you and your work online?

A: I’m out on book tour throughout the year, so if you like getting signed copies, you can find me at any number of book and scifi conventions, mostly in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. I’m also available through these channels:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/RussColchamiroAuthor

Twitter: @AuthorDudeRuss

Instagram: AuthorDudeRuss

Web site: http://www.russcolchamiro.com; http://www.crazy8press.com

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Russ-Colchamiro/e/B004DWUP8I/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_3?qid=1502295287&sr=8-3

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/colchamiro?_requestid=409654

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4450877.Russ_Colchamiro?from_search=true


Author Interview: Meet Nick Haskins Author of Betrayed











ULM: What other books have you written beside Betrayed?

Apart from Betrayed, I have written three other books: On the Edge of Heat (African-American/Urban Fiction – 2011). Jamal (African-American/Erotica – 2012). My Husband’s Wife (African-American/Urban Fiction – 2013).

ULM: When did you first start to write as an author? Why?

I started writing as an author in 2008. I worked at a call center where, at the time, calls were very, very slow. In-between calls I started reading Soulmates Dissipate by Mary B. Morrison. Halfway through, I got a major dose of inspiration and started writing again after stopping for close to ten years.

ULM: What themes can readers find in your novel, Betrayed?

Unconditional family devotion. Love. Lies. Deceit, and of course, betrayal.

ULM: What was it like creating a love triangle between a father and son?

In some of the more dramatic parts, it was tough crating such a taboo love triangle involving father and son. One of the more difficult chapters to write—and still tough to read—is when Billy and William are in the garage together at the end.

ULM: How would you describe your female character, Jennifer Payne?

When Jennifer came to me before I started writing Betrayed, I continually envisioned Jennifer Williams from Basketball Wives. Jennifer Payne is beautiful, sophisticated, strong, and loyal to the man she married until she starts to take notice in his twenty-one-year-old son. She loves William, and their life together, but she can’t resist temptation.

ULM: What boundaries are pushed and tested inside of Betrayed?

Love, family, and loyalty are the top three boundaries that are pushed to the limit in Betrayed.

ULM: What was it like emotionally to create the story you did in Betrayed?

It was always very creatively dark for me working on Betrayed. I didn’t feel depressed or negative; I felt more like I had a sad, cold—but entertaining—story that would hopefully make some of my readers cry from emotion or at least want to. I can remember visualizing the all black cover to put emphasis on how dark I wanted the book to be.

ULM: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Don’t give up! If writing is your true passion, stick with it even through all the low points you’re going to experience as a writer. If you give up, no one will ever hear what you have to say. Trust and follow your creativity—let it lead; you follow and write, write, write as much as you can.

ULM: Where can readers find you and your work online?

Readers can visit my website: http://www.nickhaskinsbooks.com

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Nick-Haskins/e/B00683ZF2Q

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/nickhaskins

Social Media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat – @iamnickhaskins

Q&A with Author Laura Trentham

Q&A with Laura Trentham

1. What inspired the novel plot?

Plots are strange things for me…I can rarely pinpoint anything in particular that triggers an idea. They usually pop into my head when I doing something else entirely like making dinner of driving the kids around.
2. What’s your favorite scene? Why?

I love the scene where Sutton gets drunk and finally propositions Wyatt for real. I hope it’s funny and sexy and the reader can feel her mortification when she thinks he turns her down.
3. Who’s your favorite character? Why?

Wyatt. He’s sexy and tough, but also incredibly sweet. He loves his family and would do anything for them. My heroes are complex and most definitely not a-holes.
4. Any other books in the pipeline?

Two more Cottonbloom books! WHEN THE STARS COME OUT (1/30/2018) features Wyatt’s twin brother Jackson. SET THE NIGHT ON FIRE (8/2018) is Mack Abbott’s book. Also, sometime in the fall of 2018, I’ll have a military themed romance/women’s fiction book releasing! I’m super excited about it too.
5. What led you to write in this genre over others?

Actually, my first books were historical romances, and I’ll be re-releasing two and adding a new book in my historical Spies and Lovers series this fall (Sept/Nov 2017). But, while the historical books were on submission with publishers, my agent suggested I try a contemporary. It sold to St. Martin’s Press only a couple of months after my historicals sold. I’ve set all my contemporaries in the American south because that’s where I was born and have lived most of my life. I understand the way southerners talk and think.
6. Do you have a favorite book and author?

I’m going to have to throw it back to Mary Stewart as my favorite author. I quite often reread her books. But as far as which book I’ve reread the most, it would have to be Julie Garwood’s The Bride.
7. Why and how did you decide you wanted to write for a living?

I’ve always been an avid reader, but I didn’t even consider writing until five years ago. My daughter started preschool, and going back to work doing what I went to school for (chemical engineering) wasn’t feasible. I sat down one morning and started writing. At first, I didn’t even tell my husband what I was doing. I won’t lie, it took a lot of work and rewrites to get those first manuscripts good enough. But, eventually, I signed with an agent and sold them both.
8. What’s your favorite way to relax?

Reading! (I know that’s a shocker:) I also enjoy the mindlessness of games on my phone.
9. What’s your favorite food?

Fried rice! I just learned to make it at home. My rice cooker is my second favorite appliance (behind my coffee maker!)

10. Sounds like Sutton’s fiancé’s a cheating…um…cheats. Why did you decide to use that as an aspect of your story?

Andrew is a secondary character in the first Cottonbloom trilogy about the Fournette siblings. He’s kind of a slime ball in those books too.

11. Tell us something about Wyatt that we don’t learn from the book.

 He likes to wear women’s underwear. Just kidding!! Actually, I’m drawing a blank, he’s an open, honest kind of man.

12. This book is set in Mississippi. Does this location contribute to the story in some way?

 It’s actually set half in Mississippi and half in Louisiana. I wanted a southern location. But, I also envisioned a twist on the wrong side of the tracks story. In Cottonbloom, the more affluent live on the Mississippi side and the blue-collar working class live on the Louisiana side. I wanted that push-pull and rivalry between the two. It informs the relationships between my couples.


Love, betrayal, and sweet revenge—life in Cottonbloom is about to get a whole lot hotter . . .
Sutton Mize is known for lavishing attention on the customers who flock to her boutique on the wealthy side of her Mississippi town. So when she finds a lace thong in her fiancé’s classic cherry-red Camaro, she knows just who she sold it to: her own best friend. In an instant, Sutton’s whole world goes up in flames. . .
Wyatt Abbott has harbored a crush on Sutton since he was a young kid from the other side of the tracks. He witnessed Sutton’s shocking discovery in the Camaro at his family-owned garage—and it made him angry. What kind of man could take lovely, gorgeous Sutton for granted? But then Sutton comes up with an idea: Why not give her betrothed a taste of his own medicine and pretend that she’s got a lover of her own? Wyatt is more than happy to play the hot-and-heavy boyfriend. But what begins as a fictional affair soon develops into something more real, and more passionate, than either Sutton or Wyatt could have imagined. Could it be that true love has been waiting under the hood all along?

Author Bio:

An award-winning author, Laura Trentham was born and raised in a small town in Tennessee. Although, she loved English and reading in high school, she was convinced an English degree equated to starvation. She chose the next most logical major—Chemical Engineering—and worked in a hard hat and steel toed boots for several years.
She writes sexy, small town contemporaries and smoking hot Regency historicals. The first two books of her Falcon Football series were named Top Picks by RT Book Reviews magazine. Then He Kissed Me, a Cottonbloom novel, was named as one of Amazon’s best romances of 2016. When not lost in a cozy Southern town or Regency England, she’s shuttling kids to soccer, helping with homework, and avoiding the Mt. Everest-sized pile of laundry that is almost as big as the to-be-read pile of books on her nightstand.

Social Links:

Twitter- @LauraTrentham

Author Interview: Jean Sorrell

Interview Questions for “Shadow of Death”

What was it like studying English Literature?

Studying English Literature was like opening a gift box, a view of a world unknown to me before. The Brontes, Mary Shelley, Daphne du Mauier, Agatha Christie, Mary Stewart and so many other wonderful English women authors inspired me to want to be an author.


Should fiction authors consider getting a degree in Creative Writing like you did?

Everyone approaches the craft of writing in their own unique way. I should think writing comes more from “the doing” not just through academics. I’m glad I have my Ph.D. in Creative Writing, but I’ve learned so much more since then! I think it’s the process that’s most important.


You mentioned being a teacher and an art gallery owner. How have these career paths shaped your writing?

I love teaching. If I’ve imparted ideas that have encouraged others to write or just read great literature then I’ve been a successful teacher. I love Art. Maybe I should say I’m “in love” with Art, with every style from Classical to Post “Post” Modern, and every technique that artists have created.


How has living in Louisiana inspired your mysteries?

I search out and read mystery novels set in the British Isles, Ireland and other places in the world. Most of them offer atmosphere and images along with a plot that really appeals to me. When I decided to write mystery novels I wanted to create good stories, but also portray some of that wonderful eerie landscape I’ve enjoyed reading. Louisiana is that place and its sense of place and history inspires my stories.


Why is mystery your favorite genre?

Perhaps it’s because I like the puzzle of a whodunit. I also like entering a new place, seeing it for the first time, rooting for my protagonist to win the game, and ultimately her own personal stuggle.


When did you first begin to write?

I wrote my first story at the age of eight and I hope to still be writing at eighty-eight!


What advice would you give to writers struggling to find inspiration?

I tell my students all writing is personal. Search for inspiration everywhere but most often what you write about has a connection to your subjective self. Meditation helps.


I noticed your novel, Shadow of Death, is set during 1940 and in Louisiana. Why choose that particular time period?

I’ve been fascinated for years with the leper colony near Carville, Louisiana; the only hospital of its kind in America. In 1940 they were getting close to finding a cure for such a dreaded disease. That time frame, I decided, was important and would add texture to my story.


How would you describe your protagonist, Catherine Lyle?

She has just turned thirty and is a troubled woman. Her life has been filled with death and sorrow. She’s become a recluse in New Orleans, living in her own shadow world, buried beneath guilt and loneliness.


How many books have you written besides Shadow of Death?

One. “The Returning”
Will there be more mystery novels to come?

Yes. Catherine Lyle’s story isn’t finished.


How would you describe your writing using only three words?

Setting, Character, Plot.


Where can readers find you and your books online?

Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other e-book outlets.




Meet, Poet, June Marie Davis…


ULM: What inspired you to write Reflections of a Soul?


 JMD: I was told that I couldn’t and that I wouldn’t amount to much by a close relative. So I did it, I wrote a book.


ULM: How long have you been writing poems?


JMD: Since I was a teenager, 12 or 13 years old.


ULM: Which of your poems inside Reflections of a Soul was your favorite?

JMD: They all have a special sentiment to me, but if I had to choose I would say there are two that are my favorite. “I AM”, which is the last poem in the book is an empowering poem about being who you are, being proud and accepting of that.  


“Daddy’s Little Girl” is the first poem to open the book and I chose that poem because it was something that I never experienced as a child. My mom did an amazing job raising my brother and I as a single parent, but the not knowing what my father was like was always a curiosity to me.


ULM: Are there more poems you have written besides the ones inside your latest book?


JMD: I do have more poems, and I try to write often. Writing is cathartic for me, most times I just write down what or how I’m feeling and I wont go back to it for days or weeks later.


ULM: How would you describe your writing using only three words?


JMD: Simple, Contemplative and Flawed. 


ULM: Do you have more works coming out soon? If so, can you share with us, readers, what those will be and when they’ll be published?


JMD: I have some works in progress. I’m working on a children’s book and another book, but I’m not quite sure of its format just yet. I am hoping by the end of the year to have one or both books published.


ULM: Have you published other volumes of poetry?

JMD: My first poem was published when I was 16 years old in a book with varies poets, but Reflections is my first book.


ULM: What advice would you give to other poets?

JMD: I would say to never give up on yourself and never let any one person keep you from your destiny. If you want to write, write. Your words are worthy of being read.


ULM: Where can readers find your work online?


JMD: Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Inkwater Books



Author Interview with John Sibley Williams 

Author Interview with John Sibley Williams 


Me: How does it feel to be a five-time Pushcart nominee? What were your thoughts?

I am honored to know so many magazines and presses believe in my work. It’s always a bit of a shock, but the joy never diminishes.

Me: After reading Disinheritance, a collection your poetry in one brilliant book, what inspired each piece? Or inspired you to write the poems?

Disinheritance was inspired by a few pivotal moments that occurred within a few months of each other, namely the illness and passing of my mother, a terrible miscarriage, and my wife and I’s struggles to move forward and redefine the landscape of “family”. To explore grief more fully in this collection, I adopted various unique voices, like those of our miscarried child, the hypothetical boy he might have grown up to be, my mother in her last moments, and my wife as she struggled to cope.

So Disinheritance shows a far more personal side than most of my poetry, though I hope the poems speak to larger, universal human concerns about how we approach mortality and what roles we play in each other’s’ lives.

Me: I noticed that you have written several other anthologies. Can you share with us, readers, what the titles are of those anthologies?

Sure. My other full length collection is Controlled Hallucinations. It was published in 2013 by FutureCycle Press. Before that, I had a number of chapbooks published through various presses.

Me: Is it difficult to put an anthology of poems together?

Absolutely. I have always struggled with organizing my poetry collections. Which poems should be included? Which cut? How to organize them to create a feeling of cohesiveness? Are there poems you love, perhaps that have even won awards, that simply don’t match the themes of the collection as a whole? Most collections go through a series of revisions before reaching a point where the poet feels comfortable submitting them to publishers. And if enough publishers reject it, the question becomes: what have I done wrong? What can I revise to strengthen it?

Me: Using three words, how would you describe your most recent anthology of poetry, Disinheritance?

Lyrical. Heart-breaking. Honest.

Me: Would you highly recommend writers to submit their works to places to win awards?

That’s a good question. I’ve read numerous articles about the pros and cons of submitting to awards, and both arguments make valid points. For example, it’s true that awards can be costly (often between $10 and $30 per submission), and these costs can add up quickly. It’s also true that any poem or book is up against hundreds (or thousands) of others, so competition is fierce. However, if you win or are nominated for an award, that does carry significant weight; award-winning authors tend to be taken more seriously by publishers and readers, and, of course, most awards carry substantial cash prizes. So it’s a mixed bag.

 My recommendation for emerging poets and writers is to hone your craft before spending money on contests. Submit first to magazines and acquire a number of notable publications. Once enough editors have shown interest in your work, then perhaps it is contest-worthy. That is not to say new authors without publication experience aren’t amazingly talented. But, as writers, we tend to have a skewed opinion of our own work. I’ve been submitting to contests for most of my writing life, winning one or two a year at most. Those years, I spent far more on submissions than I made back on prize money. Only recently have I consistently won enough awards to financially warrant the expense. However, it’s not about finances. The bottom line is not money so much as exposure. If you love your work and have spent decades honing it, in the end, I would argue it’s worth the time, effort, and expense to submit to contests.

Me: You have won several awards and credits. How does this affect your job as an editor?

I’m not sure if my own accolades, or those of my co-editor, per se affect our editorial work. Hopefully it gives authors who submit to our magazine some confidence in our ability to select powerful poetry, but many of our published authors have similar awards and credentials. 

Me: Out of all of your poems, which three are your top favorite?

I honestly can’t say which of all my poems resonate the strongest with me, but in Disinheritance the three poems that still make me tremble when I read them are “I Go to the Ruined Place,” “Teething,” and “A Dead Boy Speaks to His Parents.” 

Me: When did you first begin to write poetry? 

I’m lucky to have been passionate about books since childhood. Perhaps it’s in part due to my mother reading novel after novel over her pregnant belly every day. Perhaps it’s in part due to my own restlessness, my need to make things, and my love of words. But I began writing short stories in middle school, and I continued in that genre until my early twenties. A handful of those stories found publication in literary magazines, which was eye-opening and oddly humbling.

 I was 21 when I wrote my first poem. Before that, I had never enjoyed reading poetry and had certainly never considered writing one. It was summer in New York and I was sitting by a lake with my feet dragging through the current caused by small boats when suddenly, without my knowing what I was doing, I began writing something that obviously wasn’t a story. What was it? Impressions. Colors. Emotions. Strange images. I didn’t have any paper, so I used a marker to write a series of phrases on my arm. Then they poured onto my leg. Then I realized I needed paper. I ran back to the car, took out a little notebook, and spent hours emptying myself of visions and fears and joys I don’t think I even knew I had. That was 17 years ago. Since that surreal and confusing moment by that little city lake, I’ve written poetry almost every day.

Me: What was the first award you won for your outstanding writing skills?

Gosh, it was so long ago that I must apologize if I get the details incorrect. But I believe the first time my work was honored with an award was about twenty years ago, when I was eighteen-years-old. One of my prose pieces won Best Short Story in the undergraduate magazine Voices. I still remember the shock and honor of discovering something I created actually resonated with strangers. I hope I never forget that feeling.

Me: Do you have any works in progress at the moment, if so, can you share it with us, readers?

I have two upcoming collections, both quite different in styles and purpose. I recently completed a chapbook titled Skin Memory, which combines free verse and prose poetry to explore human connects and disconnects as they relate to culture and family. The other project, which I’m currently working on, is titled Road to the Sky.

Me: What tips would you share with other poets?

There’s a reason “keep writing, keep reading” has become clichéd advice for emerging writers; it’s absolutely true. You need to study as many books as possible from authors of various genres and from various countries. Listen to their voices. Watch how they manipulate and celebrate language. Delve deep into their themes and characters and take notes on the stylistic, structural, and linguistic tools they employ. And never, ever stop writing. Write every free moment you have. Bring a notebook and pen everywhere you go (and I mean everywhere). It’s okay if you’re only taking notes. Notes are critical. It’s okay if that first book doesn’t find a publisher. There will be more books to come. And it’s okay if those first poems aren’t all that great. You have a lifetime to grow as a writer.

 Do we write to be cool, to be popular, to make money? We write because we have to, because we love crafting stories and poems, because stringing words together into meaning is one of life’s true joys. So rejections are par for the course. Writing poems or stories that just aren’t as strong as they could be is par for the course. But we must all retain that burning passion for language and storytelling. That flame is what keeps us maturing as writers.

Me: Where can readers find you and your work online?

Thanks so much for asking. All my books are available via the usual online shops and in plenty of independent bookstores, though I have far more information, including newly published poems, on my website: https://johnsibleywilliams.wordpress.com.

Meet Jacob Appel

Meet Jacob Appel

Q. Your first novel,The Man Who Wouldn’t Stand Up, won the Dundee International Book Award in 2012.  Can you describe how the moment felt when you found out?

JA: At first, I was suspicious.  I figured it must be some kind of Nigerian 419 scam.  So many publishers had rejected the book that I was like one of those dogs in the learned helplessness experiments who cringes even when not being shocked.   But then I realized it wasn’t a scam and I felt vindicated.   As your readers may know, the Dundee International Book Award is based on Scotland.  I had always believed the Scots to be a superior people, endowed with impeccable taste—and they proved me right!

Q. For those of us readers who haven’t read your first novel, can you tell us briefly what it’s about and where we can find it online? 

JA: The book features Arnold Brinkman, a liberal botanist from New York City who takes his son to a Yankees game and gets caught sticking out his tongue on the Jumbotron during the singing of God Bless America.  Soon he is branded a terrorist sympathizer and must go into hiding in Central Park…. You can always get my books on Amazon, but if you’re looking to enter heaven, you should order them at your local bookstore.

Q. How did you come about writing novels in the mystery/ humor/ comedy genres?

JA: I’d always thought of myself as a serious novelist.   Yet you have to possess a certain gravitas to write a serious novel – like Tolstoy or Proust.  At a minimum, you have to look like John Kerry.   The gravitas standards for comedy writers are a bit more lax – Vonnegut, J. P. Donleavy, Woody Allen.  My choices were either purchase a tie or write humor, and I took the road less asphyxiating.

Q. Your short story collection, Scouting for the Reaper, won the 2012 Hudson Prize. What is it like applying for such awards? And what advice can you give to those applying for the same award?

JA: Applying for awards is easy.  I have done it countless times.  In the case of the Hudson Prize, I’d actually submitted five other collections that same year.  The key to winning prize is to submit early and often.   Or to blackmail the judges…. If you can obtain photographs of the judging in compromising positions, it works wonders on the selection process….

Q. Scouting for the Reaper is a fascinating collection of short stories that you have written.  Each character facing their own unanticipated challenge.  A very intriguing book to read for all. What were your challenges in writing this series if any?

JA: Thanks for the kind words.  You have probably single-handedly doubled my readership, so I am grateful.

The greatest challenge for me, in writing, is always stopping before I make a mess of things.  I had a tendency to write too much.  To stop myself, I focus upon all of the squid who died heroically to make my ink possible….

Q. How many short stories would you say that you have published so far? 

JA: I believe that I have published 215 stories.   My secret fantasy is to become a famous writer and to die suddenly, having claimed to have published 215 stories, while actually having published only 214.  I can picture all of these literary scholars scouring the planet for the missing story….Alas, I am not going to be famous, and I actually have published 215 stories, so I planned this poorly.

Q. Using only three words how would you come to describe yourself as a writer?

JA: Seeking a patron.

Q. Your writing career has definitely launched off successfully. What hardships, if any, have you faced when writing your books and getting them published?

JA: A shortage of vowels.   I suppose Vanna White has cornered the market.

Q. I have read one of your novels called Wedding Wipeout. It was full of humor, mystery, and suspense. I loved it.  How did you come about writing this humorous Jewish mystery? 

JA: Honestly, I’m very close to my grandmother – she’s now 94 years old – and I wanted to write a book that she could enjoy.  Alas, she only reads Jewish mysteries and sagas about Tudor England.  At the time, I thought I’d made a wise choice.   Clearly, I did not.  Just think:  I could have been the Jewish Hilary Mantel!

Q. In Phoning Home, your collection of essays, has a wide range of amazing stories and insights into your family life. Can you tell us readers a bit more about this interesting new book of yours?

JA: Phoning Home is a very personal book.  It shares all the secrets I would not want my mother to know.  My mother, incidentally, has been forbidden from reading the book.  (If you know her, and you share its contents with her, you will be attacked by pestilence and pirates.)   I also discuss some of the bioethical dilemmas that I have encountered as a hospital psychiatrist.  But my favorite part of the book is the cover.  Somehow, the brilliant folks at the University of South Carolina press, managed to find an olive green telephone identical to the rotary device my step-grandmother rented from Ma Bell.

Q. What was your inspiration for writing Einstein’s Beach House? 

JA: I did it for the glory.  And for my country.  I like to think of it as my Lexington & Concord, my Gettysburg, my D-Day all rolled into one.  Alas, I have found when I tell this to veterans, they have a tendency to threaten my front teeth.  On a more mundane level, I started the collection eight years ago when my neighbor, Penny Sycamore, left her typewriter in my apartment by mistake.

Q. What is your advice to writers out there on writing short stories?

JA: The best craft-related wisdom that I have ever received is to know your ending before you start writing.  Imagine if you were planning a family vacation.  There are two ways to go about it.  Either you could choose your destination and travel there, or you could step out your front door and wander.   The first approach might bring you to Paris or Hawaii or Disneyland.  The second approach will likely lead you to nowhere, surrounded by an irritated spouse and whining children.  So why would you start a story without knowing where you’re going?

Motivation is also crucial.  In my case, I keep telling myself that it’s always possible that Sophie Loren will pick up the obscure literary journal where I publish my story – and then fly in from Italy to profess her undying love.  This has not yet happened.   You might think that after 215 stories, I’d have learned my lesson, but hope springs eternal.  In any case, I’d settle for a fan letter from Karen Russell.  If you’re friends with Karen Russell and you persuade her to send me a fan letter, I might just remember you in my will.

Q. Your incredible work has been featured and published in more than two hundred literary journals including Agni, Conjunctions, Gettysburg Review, Southwest Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, and West Branch. How does one go about being published in a journal?  

JA: I imagine many of your readers are familiar with the famous Sidney Harris cartoon, featuring two mathematicians standing before a chalkboard with a tapestry of incomprehensible numbers and formulas, and in the middle, the words:  “Then a miracle occurs.”  Every publication is like that.

Q. What are your hobbies besides writing?

JA: Wronging.

Q. Where can readers find you and your books online?

JA: I’m at www.jacobmappel.com.   I’d much prefer you purchased my books offline, at your local bookstore, but you can also purchase them over the computer at any of the major conglomerates.   Yet the best way to read one of my books is to ask your local library to acquire a copy.

Meet Ryan Hill

Meet Ryan Hill

Ryan Hill

Q. What authors have you read that inspired you to write Barking Madness?

RH: There are so many writers that have inspired me, Ken Follett, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Cormac McCarthy to name a few, but Christopher Paolini has been my main inspiration for putting pen to paper. He wrote his first book when he was 15, so I figured, “Why can’t I do that too?” It was much harder than it sounded though, and when I was finished with my story, there was a lot of editing that needed to be done. After writing my final page, however, my feelings of accomplishment were unlike anything I had experienced before.
Q. Out of all the characters within your debut novel, Barking Madness, which ones were the hardest to create? And which were the easiest?

RH: The hardest character to create was Michael’s father. I wanted to make him a jerk, but not your typical alcoholic jerk. I also wanted the reader to have some sympathy for him, but in the end, I still don’t know if I was able to gain him any sympathy and give him a soul. His actions may have been just too…unforgivable. He was a bad person and worse father. The easiest character to create was Rosetta. I knew what I wanted out of her the moment I started writing. So, with every scene that she was in, I felt more comfortable as a writer because she was so easy to incorporate into the story.
Q. What inspired you to start writing your debut novel?

RH: I came up with the initial idea for Barking Madness in 7th grade. From that point on, I was always writing down ideas for my storyline. By the beginning of 12th grade, I felt that I had enough to expand on the story. Other than my inspiration from other authors, I knew deep down that I wanted to create fiction. I saw writing as the easiest way to break into the fictional realm, so I started to write. It took lots of self-encouragement to keep going, too. Before senior year of high school, I didn’t want to tell my parents about my writing endeavors in fear that they would disagree. So, my own motivation is what encouraged me. I would also like to mention that I did have a few remarkable teachers that inspired me to be creative, independent, and to think outside the box. I was very secretive about my novel.
Q. What kind of books do you enjoy reading when you have the time?

RH: I really enjoy a great story and, also, good science fiction. As a kid, I loved the Goosebumps series, as a teen, I enjoyed the Twilight series, and now I just enjoy an entertaining read. My tastes are varied. I loved Pillars of the Earth, World War Z, and Lone Survivor. My tastes can be eclectic and the range between each story, vast and refreshing. I never get tired of variety. Survival horror, such as, The Road, is one of my favorites and, also, an amazing genre, so if the two are combined, then I’m bound to love it.

Q. Are there any YA authors out there that you would say are your role models for being a published YA author?

RH: Stephenie Meyer is definitely my young adult role model. I read her Twilight series in middle school, right before the movies came out and ruined them. I remember how obsessed I was with finishing those books. It was like entering a whole new world. If I could somehow recreate the magic she released, then I would be the happiest man alive.
Q. Using only three words how would you describe your writing?

RH: Spooky, dark, heartfelt
Q. Having read your novel, Barking Madness, I was instantly lured deep into your lead female character’s life. How would you describe this character of yours?

RH: I wanted Rosetta to be the typical new hot girl. Although it’s hard to say what’s typical of a new girl, because they’re all so different, I would say most people have an image in their heads of what a hot girl should act like. Rosetta, for example, is gorgeous, flirty, and self-absorbed and, for me, that’s the image of the typical hot girl…the girl you will never get. So in your head, or in this case Michael’s head, you have to make her out to be something you don’t want. In my book’s scenario, Rosetta was good looking, everybody liked her, and so I had to make her undesirable from a personality standpoint in order for her to fit the common image of the typical hot new girl. Of course, I wanted to flesh her character out, so as the story went on, I turned the girl who had it all into the girl who had nothing. Whether this made the reader sympathetic to her as a character, I don’t know, but it did make her appear more real. I don’t believe anyone is that one-sided, which is why I made Brittney, another character like Rosetta, an alcoholic, and Chloe, the other popular girl, suicidal. Everybody has their own problems whether they show it to people or not. I really wanted the reader to get far into the psyche of my character Rosetta, and it was fun doing this. Her character change from beginning to end is also very drastic, which is a part of growing up.
Q. The ending of your novel leaves readers wondering what will happen next. What are your future plans for the characters from Barking Madness? Will readers see a book 2?

RH: I don’t plan on continuing this storyline any further. I’m looking forward to having my editor refine it and get the word count down so that it can, hopefully, be a bestselling standalone novel. The story does have a HEA but Michael and Rosetta’s future will remain a mystery.
Q. What are your future writing projects, if any that you wouldn’t mind sharing with us readers?

RH: I definitely plan to continue writing fiction. I find the real world to lack happy endings, and I love happy endings, so nothing real world focused. I like crazy topics too. For instance, Barking Madness is about a werewolf. I would like to remain on the wacky side of things.
Q. Who would you say is the craziest character within your novel? And why?

RH: The masked man is easily the craziest character within my novel. Despite him being the cause behind Rosetta’s psyche out of whack, he also lacks a motive. Yes, he says he’s there for Rosetta, but to do what? At first, it’s to kidnap her, and then it’s to kill her, and then, again, it’s back to kidnapping her. He also lacks direction when dealing with Michael. First, he wants to kill him; then he lets Michael push him into the fire (basically forfeiting his own life), then he goes back to attacking Michael saying something along the lines of, “I worked too hard for this. I’m not letting you take her from me.” But if this is how he felt, then why’d he let Michael push him into the fire??? His lack of commitment towards any one thing is disorientating to the reader. Well, at least I hope it is, and I did this to further show how mentally deranged he is as a character. Showing up, almost out of nowhere, with a huge chip on his shoulder towards every character, he doesn’t make much sense. And the reader doesn’t necessarily have to understand his motives entirely. All they have to know is, he has a connection with Rosetta. His motives seem clear, but at the heart of things, they really don’t make much sense. He just shows up to f*** s*** up, and it’s strange, but it’s meant to be strange because he is a mentally unstable character.
Q. Where can readers find you online and find your brilliantly well written novel to buy?

RH: My book is off the market, currently, because I have signed with a publisher, and it is getting edited. I have been told that it will be back up and for sale August 18th.

Meet Bruce Henderson

Meet Bruce Henderson

Bruce Henderson ap1wpid-wp-1428608392296.jpg

Q: What inspired you to write Rescue at Los Baños?

BH: Many people are familiar with the brutal treatment of U.S. military POWs in the Pacific during WWII by the Japanese, thanks in large measure to the bestselling book and film, Unbroken. We hear less about the plight of American civilians who happened to be living and working in the Philippines when war broke out. Within weeks of their surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese invaded the Philippines, and rounded up these innocents — men, women and children — and placed them in internment camps for the duration of the war. I wanted to tell this story because I thought it deserved to be told at last.

Q: Inside of this spectacular nonfiction story of the historical events that occurred during WWII of the Japanese War Camp where many were starved, beaten, and killed, you have captured the personal interviews, memoirs, and correspondence. What was it like going through each one of these and intertwining them into your book?

BH: I felt honored to be interviewing these members in good standing of the Greatest Generation, nearly all of them in their 90s. Many of them had gone through life without talking a lot about their wartime experiences, and doing so could be quite emotional for them. But to a person, they wanted their stories chronicled and not lost in history.

Q: As a best-selling and international best-selling author, what advice would give to other nonfiction writers waiting to achieve that dream of writing the best-selling book?

BH: Keep writing and keep dreaming. With a great story, a measure of talent developed through experience and exercise, and a ton of persistence and hard work, it can happen. That was my own path to success, and it’s the advice I’ve given many writing students over the years at USC School of Journalism and Stanford University.

 Q: What is like being an award winning journalist? Where are some places where you have published your work?

BH: I suggest you check out my website (BruceHendersonBooks.com) re my other published books. As for winning awards and having previous bestsellers, that’s all great. Everyone  likes kudos and success. But I am much more keenly interested in what I am working on today. In other words: What’s next? Any writer who rests on his or her laurels for more than a nanosecond won’t last long in this profession.

Q: For those young journalists out there what advice would you give them?

BH: See response to the above question.

Q: What inspires you to write books such as the Rescue at Los Baños, Hero Found: The Greatest POW Escape of the Vietnam War?

BH: I am inspired by people who, in the face of danger and adversity and from a position of weakness, display great courage and self-sacrifice for the greater good. That happened on both “sides” of the story I tell in Rescue at Los Baños: from both the internees being held prisoner and the military personnel who risked their lives to try to rescue them.

Q: Did you always know that you wanted to become a journalist and author? 

BH: I worked for students newspapers in high school. After military service during Vietnam, I return to college on the G.I. Bill, taking lots of journalism and history courses. I became a newspaper reporter at age 22, and haven’t stopped reporting and writing since.

Q: Can you tell us readers a little bit about your number one best-seller, And the Sea Will Tell? “Grips you by the throat from beginning to end.”—Cleveland Plain Dealer

BH: Alone with her new husband on a tiny Pacific atoll, a young woman, combing the beach, finds an odd aluminum container washed up out of the lagoon, and beside it on the sand something glitters: a gold tooth in a scorched human skull. The investigation that follows uncovers an extraordinarily complex and puzzling true-crime story. I co-authored this book with Vincent Bugliosi, who had recounted the successful prosecution of mass murderer Charles Manson in the bestseller Helter Skelter. We were able to draw together hundreds of conflicting details of the mystery, and reconstruct what really happened when four people found hell in a tropical paradise. And the Sea Will Tell reconstructed the events of this riveting true-murder mystery. And the Sea Will Tell was only my second hardcover book, and it went #1 on the New York Times bestseller list — a heady experience, indeed. It was also the basis of a highly-rated four-hour CBS miniseries starring Rachel Ward and Richard Crenna.

Q: What would say was the most powerful thing that you found out about the WWII Japanese War Camps while doing your research?

BH: In the Philippines, there was at least one mass execution of U.S. military POWs forced into a wooden bunker which was then saturated with gasoline and set ablaze. This was done when the Japanese thought the prisoners were about to be freed. At Los Baños, the situation involved the purposeful withholding of food, which caused more than 2,000 people to suffer mightily and unnecessarily, with many starving to death before they could be rescued. That — and other things that went on in and around the camp — were later judged to be war crimes.

Q: What’s like balancing both jobs as a journalist and author?

BH: I have been a full-time book author since the mid-1980s.

Q: What are your other hobbies beside writing?

BH: Travelling to first-world cities and countries, among them New York and London, France and Italy. I am an inveterate cocktailer and foodie, and am always on the lookout for dark bars and fabulous restaurants.

Q: Where can readers find you and your books online?

BH: My website is BruceHendersonBooks.com, which has a complete list of all my books, with additional information — including buying options — about each one. Also, photographs, maps, etc. My Facebook author page is BruceHendersonBooks.

Author Interview with Rose Senehi (2014 Indie-Reader Discovery Award for Popular Fiction Winner)


Interview with Rose Senehi 


What inspired you to start writing, especially your novel, Dancing On Rocks?

  Danielle, I studied journalism at Syracuse University and, when I was sent on an assignment to interview a mall developer, I was offered a job paying a lot more money. Fate is a funny thing. Before I walked in that office, I never would have dreamed of leaving my newspaper career, yet, for the next ten years I traveled all over the Northeast opening shopping malls. On my long drives from one mall to the next I would dream about writing a novel, but never had the time to sit down and do it. Tired of all the travel and needing to be home every night now that my son was reaching his teens, I switched over to managing a local mall until fate stepped in again. Out of the blue, a headhunter offered me a job managing a outlet center in Myrtle Beach, SC. I accepted, turned our farm that we rented out over to my son, who was now grown and newly married, and left. I remember him saying that I packed like I was running from the cops. As I drove the twelve hours from the cold upstate New York winter to the sunny south, I made up my mind. I told myself that it was never too late to follow the dream I had harbored for almost thirty years, and a couple of weeks after I hit the beach, I started my first novel. Dancing on Rocks is my seventh novel and the fourth in my series of stand alones that take place in the mountains of North Carolina where I now live.

Can you tell us readers a little bit about, Dancing On Rocks?

        This is a story of a family shrouded in the mystery of a child gone missing for twenty-five years, and the love, courage and feeling of community that helped them get through it. Simmering beneath the skin and hiding around every corner are a family’s painful memories of a child who disappeared in the middle of the night 25 years ago. Nursing her mother back to health wasn’t all that drew Georgie Haydock back to the mountain tourist town of Chimney Rock. The summer roils as her mother thrashes in her bed, insisting that the strange woman stalking her store downstairs is Georgie’s missing sister. Georgie aches to reunite with the hometown boy she never forgot. But she fears all the summer’s turmoil will force her to unveil the secret that drove her away from him 13 years earlier. For his part, naturalist Ron Elliott doesn’t care what Georgie did all those years back. She’s the one creature he’s always yearned to possess.
Anita Lock for IndieReader says: “Filled with sadness from hardship set right at the edge of hope and love, DANCING ON ROCKS is riveting from beginning to end.” PUBLISHERS WEEKLY says of Dancing on Rocks: “A bit of mystery, a touch of romance, a good deal of local history, and vivid descriptions of dramatic scenery distinguish Senehi’s well-crafted fourth Blue Ridge standalone.”

Who is your favorite character from your novel? And why?

   Definitely, Ron Elliott, Georgie’s lost love. He’s a mountain man and botanist who lives a lonely life managing a 3,000 acre preserve. Publishers Weekly says: “Georgie’s beau is the sort of thoroughly decent man rarely portrayed in contemporary fiction.”


Which one of your characters was the hardest one to write? And why?

   Georgie Haydock was the most complex. She doesn’t know it, but it was more than her mother’s accident that made her come back to the place that all her childhood she yearned to escape. What secret is she hiding? She’s a nurse specializing in wounds, yet does she realize she’ll never be happy until she heals her own? A doctor who is a good man wants to marry her, yet she tells him she needs to think about it over the summer while she takes care of her mother’s wound. Is she running away from him, or running toward her last chance to connect with the man she’s always loved? Or, does she realize that she must heal her own wound that concerns her sister’s disappearance once and for all.

Which one of your characters did you enjoy writing the most? And why?

  Oh, Danielle, that’s an easy question. The mother of course. She’s spunky and it gave me a chance to portray a naughty but nice character, which is always fun.

What advice would you give to other writers in your genre?

   My genre is basically general fiction with a love story and mystery running through the plot. Whatever genre one writes in, a good plot is basic…then you find intriguing, yet real, characters to populate it. Of course, your main character has to be on some kind of journey and someone who the reader will connect with.

What tips would you give other writers, when creating a romance novel of their own? 

  In my romantic scenes, I find it’s best to put in just enough to get your reader’s imagination soaring. That way, the reader will visualize that which they find alluring more so than you might. After all, different strokes for different folks. Also, I feel that it’s more suspenseful and sexier to have the couple yearn for each other over a protracted period of time…with a few devastating bumps along the way to build tension.


What is the latest project that you are currently working on?

   I am recording all seven books. I had someone set up a studio in my house because I can only read effectively for 2-3 hours a day and don’t want to travel to a studio every day over the winter.

Who is your favorite author? And why?

   Charles Dickens. I read him all the time. By now, I know all the plots and read him for mostly style and character development. It’s always a good lesson.

What books have you read besides your own?

   I’m pretty much hooked on John Grisham and have read all his novels. Since my books are historically accurate, I have to do a great deal of research that requires a lot of reading.

Did you always know that you wanted to be an author?

   Storytelling kind of runs in the family. My grandma used to rock me to sleep every night telling me stories of Poland during WWI. I can still remember the exact images I conjured up all those years back when she told me about how her family was working on a haystack when a Polish cavalryman came galloping on his horse to tell them that the Germans would be there the next day. They were told to burn down all the hay and the barn and take their stock to the woods. These cozy times in my grandmother’s lap imbedded a life-long appreciation for the value and impact of a good story.

Where can readers find your novel the Dancing On Rocks?

   Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com have both the paperback and eBook versions of all my novels. Your local book stores, if they don’t have it, can get it from their distributor in a couple of days.

Can you tell us readers a little bit about your next book?

   It will be another standalone that takes place in the southern Blue Ridge Mountains. It has apples, a love story and a struggle to hold on to the land.

This summer your novel was given the 2014 Indie-Reader Discovery Award for Popular Fiction. How did that feel? 

   Needless to say, I was thrilled and greatly honored. However, when my sixth novel, Render Unto the Valley, was given the 2012 IPPY Gold Medal for Fiction-Southeast, I was so thrilled that I cried so loud that my 80 lb. dog got on my lab and kept licking my face. After years of being nominated for awards, I had finally gotten one! An award is a welcomed pat on the back. It says, “You done good, girl.”

Author Interview: Joe Cosentino

-What inspired you to start writing, especially your novel, Paper Doll?
            As an actor I worked on stage and screen with stars like Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Holland Taylor, Jason Robards, and Nathan Lane. It occurred to me that acting is storytelling in the same way that writing is storytelling, so I decided to give writing a try. I knew my first novel would be a show business story, since show business has always been such a huge part of my life. As an avid mystery reader, it was clear to me that my novel would be a page-turning murder mystery with clever plot twists, engaging characters, romance, humor, and lots of clues leading to a surprising conclusion.
– Can you tell us readers a little bit about, Paper Doll?
PAPER DOLL is the fictitious story of Jana Lane, America’s most famous child star until she was attacked on the studio lot at eighteen years old. Now a thirty-eight-year-old beauty and mother of two living in a mansion in picturesque Hudson Valley, New York, Jana’s flashbacks from her past turn into murder attempts in her present.
The local suspects include Jana’s down-on-his-luck husband with a dislike for living off the fruits of his wife’s young labor, Jana’s sister and male friend (who both have eyes for Jana’s husband), Jana’s show business father, her deranged loyal fan, and Jana’s young Guy Friday who covets her fame and shares an uncanny resemblance to Jana.
            Forced to summon up the lost courage she had as a child, Jana visits the California movie studio she once called home. This sends her on a whirlwind of visits with former and current movie studio personnel. It also leads to a romance with the son of her old producer—Rocco Cavoto—the devilishly handsome filmmaker who is planning Jana’s comeback both professionally and personally. With Rocco’s help, Jana uncovers a web of secrets about everyone she loves, including the person who destroyed her past and threatens to snuff out her future.
– Who is your favorite character from your novel? And why?
     Jana’s agent, Simon, is my favorite character for five reasons. He is amazingly resilient, old world Hollywood, incredibly funny, loyal to Jana, and most importantly, I want to play him in the movie version!
– Which one of your characters was the hardest one to write? And why?
     Jana’s sister, Tamara, was hardest to write since, unlike most of the other characters in the book, Tamara does not have a sense of humor. Tamara is a tortured soul with a secret and painful past. She loves her sister yet at the same time envies her. It was difficult for me to get into her mindset, but once I did, I believe I represented her well.
– Which one of your characters did you enjoy writing the most? And why?
     Jana’s best friend Jackson was the most fun to write because he is so funny, smart, charming, and devoted to Jana (and her husband). I also like that Jackson is a gay activist back in 1980 when it wasn’t so popular.
– What advice would you give to other writers in your genre?
     I love reading and writing stories with engaging characters who I want to spend time with. I recommend letting your characters talk to one another and seeing what happens! An outline is simply an outline. Don’t be afraid to deviate from it.
– After reading your novel, I found the suspense to be perfectly thrilling. What tips would you give other writers, when creating suspense their own novels?
     I prefer mystery suspense novels that drop lots of clues leading to the murderer. I also recommend incorporating many other characters with secrets into the story. A writer should create an entire world of suspense above and beyond “who done it.” When a reader finishes a book, he/she should be satisfied that the various parts equaled the whole, rather than the author pulling an ending out of the hat.
– What is the latest project that you are currently working on?
     Dreamspinner Press is publishing my romance novella, AN INFATUATION, in February 2015.
     I am currently writing a comedy mystery series set in the world of academia. Since I am a college professor, I know that world quite well. I have completed the first two novels, DRAMA QUEEN and DRAMA MUSCLE. I will begin the third, DRAMA CRUISE, soon.
– Who is your favorite author? And why?
Armistead Maupin has an amazing flair for writing eccentric, loveable characters with engaging and realistic dialogue.
– What books have you read besides your own?
I’ve read all nine TALES OF THE CITY books by Armistead Maupin, every Agatha Christie novel and short story, and numerous other mystery writers like Greg Herren, Mary Higgins Clark, and G. A. McKevett.
– Did you always know that you wanted to be an author?
My career path has led me from acting to teaching to writing. I think I will continue writing for quite some time.
– Where can readers find your novel the Paper Doll?
PAPER DOLL is available in paperback and electronic versions at Amazon. Here is the link:
I love hearing from readers. They can contact me at http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com.
– Can you tell us readers a little bit about your next book?
AN INFATUATION is a humorous and touching story about Harold and Mario. Muscular, sexy, and tantalizing, Mario was Harold’s hero and obsessive infatuation in high school. At their ten-year high school reunion, both men are happily married: Mario to a woman, and Harold to a man. Will they reignite the old flame and set their comfortable lives ablaze? The novella will let you know, as well as bring you back to your crushes of the past, and passions of the present. Look for it in February 2015 by Dreamspinner Press!

Author Interview: Richard D. Mellinger Jr.

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– What inspired you to start writing your novels, such as Harold and the Purple Wormhole?

Each novel has had a different inspiration. When I first started writing Harold, I was working on my senior thesis for my BS in physics at Cal Poly SLO. The project involved general relativity and, as I tend to do, I spent a lot of time thinking about wormholes. One day, in response to musing about where wormholes might come from, I though “Well, to make a wormhole, clearly you need a giant worm, duh…” This is the essence of Harold and the Purple Wormhole. After I finished chucking about how silly the idea was, the story had taken hold and demanded to be written, and so it was.

– Can you tell us readers a little bit about Harold and the Purple Wormhole?

Dr. Nenad Conroy is a brilliant scientist that wants to travel by wormhole, so he creates a giant worm that can tear holes in spacetime; this worm’s name is Harold. The two of them go out to test Harold’s abilities. Due to a disagreement and a mishap, they end up in pre-Arthurian England where they get their fair share of adventure trying to get home and learn about the true origins of the myth of wizards.

– What type of short fiction do you write?

My short fiction ranges in length from 60 to about 8,000 words. Some of it is science fiction, some of it is horror, much of it is just plain silly, a few are thought-provoking; all of them, though, are character-driven, as the characters are the most important part of any story.

– Who is your favorite character from your latest novel? And why?

I love all my characters, but forced to pick a favorite, I’d have to go with Harold. Harold is this huge, super-cognitive worm that can manipulate the fabric of spacetime with his brain and visualize eleven-dimensional maps, but he acts like a huge puppy. I think it’s hard not to want to scratch his head and call him a good boy.

– Which one of your short stories was the hardest one to write? And why?

I have a hard time writing from the point of view of a woman. As soon as I realized that I was making a great deal of my characters male simply because it’s easier for me to get into their heads, I started trying to make more of my protagonists female, because I like the challenge. I have one short, Tittle Attraction (available on my blog), that was pretty tough for this reason. The narrator wasn’t only a woman, but she was also a lesbian. Getting her voice down was rough, but the harder the character is to write, the more fun I have trying to get it, so it ended up also being one of my favorites.

– Which one of your short stories did you enjoy writing the most?

This is a tough question, because I get a certain amount of satisfaction from having a clever flash fiction idea and sitting down to write it before I even finishing giggling about it (House Rules is a perfect example of this). However, like I said before, I also really love the process of digging around looking for the right way to tell a story. I think, with that in mind, that I probably had the most fun writing The Great Hat Caper and Tittle Attraction of all my short fiction.

– How many short stories would you say you have written so far?

There are about 55 short stories on my blog. I’ve written a few more that can’t be found there, but that’s mostly because they aren’t any good, so I say that they don’t count.

– What advice would you give to other writer that also write short fiction?

My advice to writers is and always has been to write. Stop worrying about how it is going to turn out, stop waiting for the perfect idea, just write and read a lot. If you decided you like some other idea better, you can always put your current project aside, but you can never go back and recapture all the time that you didn’t spend writing.

At first your writing is going to be crap, don’t worry about it. I have a whole novel (possibly two?) and a pile of short stories that will never see the light of day. These stories were not a waste, because I learned about myself and my craft while making them.
Keep writing
, it will get better. If you love writing, it will be worth it.

– From reading your short stories, I can tell the use of dialogue is perfect. Any tips for other writers?

This is going to sound a bit creepy, but I spend a lot of time watching people. Not peeping-through-the-window sort of watching, but when I’maround people I watch them. I listen to how they interact and pay attention to how and when they talk. I think this helps a lot. At the very least it’s entertaining, because people are weird.

So, my advice about dialogue is this: to emulate people’s speech, you must observe people speaking. Also notice how rarely people actually finish their thoughts or speak in full sentences. Sometimes they just…

– What is your latest writing that you are currently working on?

One of my other novels, Molehills of Mountains (currently unpublished), is about a vole that takes on a maniacal cyborg mole, a remnant of the long since passed human wars. The mole has his mind set on the destruction of all the rodents in the valley and Viktor the vole, being a rodent in that valley, doesn’t like that plan. I’m currently writing the sequel, which doesn’t yet have a title other than Neven, which is the name of the protagonist.

– When is your book, Harold and the Purple Wormhole coming out?

That’s a complicated question. I signed my contract with Divertir Publishing back in July. There is some editing and cover designing going on and it all depends on how long that takes. The people at Divertir pride themselves on putting out high quality novels, so it will take a little while still, but the wait will be worth it.
As soon as I know a release date, you can bet it will be all over my blog, twitter, and facebook.

– What genre would you say your writing falls under?

My writing is all over the place. Being a scientifically-minded person, I think that there is a scientific slant to all my fiction, but I would put very little of it squarely in the sci-fi category. Some of it is a bit fantasy, a little of it is horror, some of it masquerades as literary, all of it is kind of strange. I wish “kind of strange” was a genre.

– Who is your favorite author? And why?

This depends on my mood. I can answer with my top three though: Kurt Vonnegut, Christopher Moore, and Stephen King.
The way Stephen King puts words together just works for and inspires me. He is brilliant, and his stories are great, but his manipulation of the language to get into the reader’s head just amazes me.
Kurt Vonnegut is more of an idea man for me, his writing is phenomenal, his characters are ready to crawl off the page, but what really gets to me with Vonnegut are his overall storylines and how wonderful they are.

Christopher Moore… what more is there to say about Mr. Moore. Just go read his novels and you’ll get it. The man is a master.

– What books, besides your own have you read?

I read a good deal. I like to switch it up: sometimes I read horror, sometimes I read science fiction, sometimes I read fantasy, and I love my classics. I’ll read just about any genre as long as its well written and interesting. I also read a fair amount of nonfiction in the form of research.

I’m on Goodreads (http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/33253444-richard-mellinger), if anyone is interested in exactly what books I read. I only joined recently, so it doesn’t have every book I’ve ever read, but I put them on there as I remember.

– Would you say that reading is important for those wanting to be authors one day?

Yes. Reading is critical, there are no two ways about it.

– Where can we find your collection of short stories?

You can find a lot of my short stories on my blog (http://imasillypirate.wordpress.com/). I try to post a new short or comic at least once a week. Often times at 3 pm (PST) on Tuesdays. There is also one piece of my flash fiction that was featured on SaturdayNightReader.com onJune 17th.

– Where can all of us readers buy your book that is being published by Divertir Publishing?

Divertir sells books on their website (http://www.divertirpublishing.com/) and on Amazon.

I’ll post on my blog and twitter when I know a release date.

– Are there any other books you are working on? If so, can you tell us a about them?

Aside from the sequel to Molehills of Mountains that I mentioned above, there is another novel in the works. Eponym has been written and is in the beta reader phase now. In Eponym, an attempt to combat global warming by Dr Alexandros Florian goes horribly wrong and turns the earth into a desert. The novel is the story of his son, who shares his name, trying to survive in the remnants of society several years later.

–  Your characters come to life right off the pages! How did you write such stunning yet realistic characters?

Thanks! That is, in my opinion, one of the greatest compliments that you can pay a writer! As I stated before, I do a lot of people-watching, which helps, I think.

Also, when writing, it is beneficial to remember that though your story may only need some characters to do something very specific, allplayers in your story are still characters. They have a back story, they have a family, they have friends and aspirations, and most importantly, the story that they are living is not usually centered around the protagonist of the story you are writing, but around themselves. I make up back stories about anyone that I mention specifically in my writing… and people that I pass on the street… and random people that I follow on twitter… I think I have a problem...
My point is, though, that
every character has a story. Even though most of it doesn’t explicitly spill out onto the page, it’s there and I think that helps each and every character to feel more real.
I also recycle some of my characters. In most cases, nobody but me notices their presence, because I often don’t even use their names, b
ut they are there. Some of them are more obvious though, for example, Dr. Conroy is mentioned in Tittle Attraction as are the two main characters from Distinct Impression. Some characters will be in the limelight, others will play out their existence in the background, but they are all important.

– Did you always know that you wanted to be an author? 

I have always been a story teller, and I’ve always been intrigued by the fact that the creativity of a human mind can create or destroy entire universes within itself. I started writing on and off just after high school, but it was mostly for me, and a large majority of stuff I started at that time was never finished. I never really considered the idea that anyone (aside from my sister) might actually want to read anything I write until years later.

Now, though, I can’t imagine my life without writing.